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How NOT to Pick Paint Colours


noun: colour
the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.

How NOT to Pick Paint Colours

Look around the room you are in right now. Take a look at a corner where both walls are painted the same colour. Do they look the same? Or do they look a bit different based on the way the light and shadow hit each wall?

Colour is a very subjective thing! The most important thing to know about picking colours to paint your house is that colour is highly relative. Your perception of it changes depending on light and other influences in the space.

I remember painting a home for a Calgary home owner that had been very impacted by a trip she had taken to South America. The colours struck her as being so vibrant and lovely, they energized and inspired her. She wanted to reproduce that feeling in her own home. And she chose to do it with her paint colours.

We poured over sections of my colour kit that were so dramatic they had barely seen the light of day. In the end she chose a very vibrant blue for her kitchen and a bright mustardy yellow for her living room. These colours were not for the faint of heart and the effect was striking! But what amazed me was that the hallway – even though it was painted out of the very same can of paint as the kitchen – was turquoise and not the vibrant blue she had picked. We realized the hall was bathed in light from the living room and the yellow painted walls were affecting the blue so much that our eyes read the colour as completely different than the kitchen which did not have that same influence.

So often I get questions or comments from clients wanting to know what colour this cabinet or that wall was from my portfolio because they want the same colour in their own home. The problem is that colour will never be the same in your home as it does not have the same light influence or surroundings. And don’t even get me started on computer screens and photoshop colour correction.

Is it wrong to pour over Pinterest and for inspiration? Of course not! Whether you are picking colours yourself or working with a colour expert, using a reference point for inspiration is always a great idea. I love it when clients send me pictures of the look they want to achieve – it helps me to know what’s in their mind’s eye so much better than a description. But that image should be just a starting point to allow us to search for a paint colour that will provide the same effect as the inspiration photo.

Either way, never finalize your colour selection - whatever the inspiration - until you've viewed it in your own home, under your own lighting, with your own things around it. That's always your best bet.

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